Temperate Mountain Forest Biodiversity under Climate Change: Compensating Negative Effects by Increasing Structural Complexity

Braunisch, Veronika; Arlettaz, Raphaël; Coppes, Joy; Suchant, Rudi; Zellweger, Florian; Bollmann, Kurt (2014). Temperate Mountain Forest Biodiversity under Climate Change: Compensating Negative Effects by Increasing Structural Complexity. PLoS ONE, 9(5), e97718. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0097718

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Species adapted to cold-climatic mountain environments are expected to face a high risk of range contractions, if not local extinctions under climate change. Yet, the populations of many endothermic species may not be primarily affected by physiological constraints, but indirectly by climate-induced changes of habitat characteristics. In mountain forests, where vertebrate species largely depend on vegetation composition and structure, deteriorating habitat suitability may thus be mitigated or even compensated by habitat management aiming at compositional and structural enhancement. We tested this possibility using four cold-adapted bird species with complementary habitat requirements as model organisms. Based on species data and environmental information collected in 300 1-km2 grid cells distributed across four mountain ranges in central Europe, we investigated (1) how species’ occurrence is explained by climate, landscape, and vegetation, (2) to what extent climate change and climate-induced vegetation changes will affect habitat suitability, and (3) whether these changes could be compensated by adaptive habitat management. Species presence was modelled as a function of climate, landscape and vegetation variables under current climate; moreover, vegetation-climate relationships were assessed. The models were extrapolated to the climatic conditions of 2050, assuming the moderate IPCC-scenario A1B, and changes in species’ occurrence probability were quantified. Finally, we assessed the maximum increase in occurrence probability that could be achieved by modifying one or multiple vegetation variables under altered climate conditions. Climate variables contributed significantly to explaining species occurrence, and expected climatic changes, as well as climate-induced vegetation trends, decreased the occurrence probability of all four species, particularly at the low-altitudinal margins of their distribution. These effects could be partly compensated by modifying single vegetation factors, but full compensation would only be achieved if several factors were changed in concert. The results illustrate the possibilities and limitations of adaptive species conservation management under climate change.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)

UniBE Contributor:

Braunisch, Veronika and Arlettaz, Raphaël

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

1932-6203

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

25 Mar 2015 13:51

Last Modified:

25 Mar 2015 13:51

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0097718

PubMed ID:

24823495

Web of Science ID:

000336369200134

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.65732

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/65732

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